New Jewish
Australian Committee for Dismantling of Zionism
John Docker and Ned Curthoys
The December 2008 Gaza Massacre
We are part of an
increasing number of people around the world of Jewish
descent who are sickened by the coldly calculated massacre
of the Palestinians of Gaza and who utterly repudiate
Israel’s claim that it acts in the name of Jews the
world over. Like Antony Loewenstein we deplore the ‘myth
of Israel‘ as perpetual victim and rational peace
seeker, and its stranglehold over media reportage of the
Israel-Palestine conflict.
The massacre in Gaza cries out not only for immediate condemnation but for
historical explanation. As scholars working in the fields of
genocide studies and research into the long history of
European colonization, it seems clear to us that Israel –
as in the history of white Australia since 1788 – is a
genocidal settler colonial society that since its founding
in 1948 continually seeks to destroy the foundations of life
of the indigenous Palestinians, their health, dignity,
livelihood, personal security, access to education, and
political organisation, so that the Palestinians can be
replaced by colonizing Zionist settlers.
Recent genocide scholarship has highlighted how much the original definition
of genocide (by Raphael Lemkin in chapter nine of his 1944
book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe) linked genocide and
colonization as a two stage process of destruction of the
home society (not necessarily by physical annihilation qua
Nazism) and replacement by the incoming colonizers. Such has
been the continuing historical pattern of Israel in relation
to the indigenous people of the land. In 1948 the Zionist
forces violently drove out over 700,000 Palestinians by
deploying ‘admonitory massacres’, as the Israeli
historian Ilan Pappé has evoked in horrific detail in his
recent The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006). Pappé
details the continuous series of massacres in 1948-49 and
sporadically thereafter that the Zionists perpetrated
against the Palestinians in order to ‘Judaize’
ethnically-cleansed Palestinian lands.
In 1967 the Israeli state conquered the West Bank and Gaza and has aggressively
continued a genocidal pattern of replacement and
destruction, creating and expanding Jewish settlements,
stealing Palestinian land and ghettoizing remaining
Palestinian communities, attempting, through a brutal
military occupation, to make life humiliating and unbearable
for the Palestinians.
What we are now witnessing is a form of settler colonization reminiscent of
nineteenth century Australia, in which a settler colonial
‘logic of elimination’ (to quote historian of
settler colonialism, Patrick Wolfe) combines massacre and
population sequestration (reserves) to incapacitate the
sovereign self determination of an indigenous people. Yet
indigenous peoples have always resisted the genocidal
processes of destruction and replacement that settler
enacts. The indigenous peoples of Australia have
magnificently resisted and still do, despite all their
historical sufferings.
The indigenous Palestinians as a people are also resisting the disaster that Zionism and
Israel have brought upon them, thereby providing the
continuing possibility of a future coexistence between
Israeli Jews and Palestinians. The December
2008 Gaza massacre by Zionist Israel poses an intense
dilemma for Israel’s organized Jewish supporters and
much of the Jewish diaspora, who have for decades cooperated
with and been complicit in the ongoing, incremental Israeli
genocide of the Palestinians. Israel is guilty under article
II, part C of the UN Genocide Convention, in that it intends
to destroy, in whole or in part, an ethnic group by
‘deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole
or in part’.
Will the Jews of the world continue to be
so supportive, or will they historically disavow genocidal
settler colonialism in the Middle East and question their
own previous support? Historically, Israel is the imposition
of a European nation state, founded on the notion of one
people, one religion, one ethnicity, in an area of the
world, the Levant, which through the centuries has been a
space where Jews, Muslims and Christians have lived together
in the same societies. The very idea so precious to Zionism,
of Israel as a Jewish state, is absurd, as the great Jewish
jurist and Australian governor-general Isaac Isaacs pointed
out in the 1940s.
What if Australia called itself a
Protestant state, immediately making all non-Protestants
second class citizens systematically facing abuse,
discrimination, and state violence, as Palestinian Israelis
do to the present day? Israel/Palestine should become a
democratic state, a democracy where all who live in that
land are full citizens whatever their religion or ethnicity.
The Australian government not that long
ago in its apology over the Stolen Generations extended
sympathy and understanding to the indigenous people of
. Why doesn’t it extend a similar sympathy to
the indigenous people of Palestine?
John Docker Ned
Curthoys Committee for the Dismantling of Zionism 1 January